ASH’s work is based on the principle that the behavior of the tobacco industry, marketing and selling lethal and addictive products, violates human rights. As such, we carry out 4 key areas of work:
(2) Using the law to hold the tobacco industry accountable,
(3) Using a human rights approach to advance tobacco control, and
(4) Promoting and strengthening global best practices.
Each program can end the tobacco epidemic on its own, and combined, our programs will chip away at the tobacco industry from every angle to speed up the end of tobacco-related deaths.
We’ve broken down our success in each program, and you can always learn more about our work on our main program page here. This list is not exhaustive, but it contains the major highlights from our work in 2020.
Project Sunset: Phasing out the sale of commercial tobacco products
Manhattan Beach, CA passed an ordinance in February 2020, following the lead of Beverly Hills, CA, to begin phasing out the sale of commercial tobacco products in their city. Read ASH’s statement of support here.
- ASH received a five-year grant from the California Tobacco Control Program (CTCP) to assist in the implementation of the CTCP Endgame Initiative as a technical assistance provider. The grant went into effect in August, and we hired a full-time Project Director (read her story here) and initiated the process to hire a Project Coordinator.
- We developed a technical assistance training program and began leading training sessions to a rural county Tobacco Education Program.
- ASH was invited to serve on the California state endgame advisory council.
- ASH Staff testified on endgame before the DC City Council. Read more here.
- ASH provided input to surveys and questionnaires on tobacco de-normalization in France that have been launched in November 2020
- ASH provided support to a Spain end game strategy
- ASH published articles or blogs on a number of new tobacco control policies that were passed in 2020:
- Dolgeville, NY passed a Retail Environment Tobacco Law. They shared their experience here.
- The Netherlands presented a plan to reduce tobacco retail outlets. Read a guest blog on the policy here.
- Brookline, MA passed a Tobacco-Free Generation ordinance, making it illegal to sell to anyone born on or after January 1, 2000. Approval of the MA attorney general is required. Read a guest blog on the policy here.
Using the law to hold the tobacco industry accountable for the harm they cause
ASH and Breathe DC filed a complaint in District of Columbia Superior Court against JUUL Labs, Inc., the controversial e-cigarette purveyor. The complaint alleges that statements on packs of JUUL pods –“5.0% Nicotine Strength” and “3.0% Nicotine Strength”–mislead consumers to believe that JUUL pods contain low amounts of nicotine, or deliver only a fraction of the amount of nicotine delivered by combustible cigarettes. Read more here.
- ASH, along with our partners at the African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council (AATCLC), the American Medical Association (AMA), and the National Medical Association (NMA) are engaged in a law suit against the FDA for its inaction on menthol cigarettes.
Using a human rights approach to advance tobacco control
ASH is developing a training and working with local partners in California and D.C. to help teach local advocates how to use international tools like the International Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD) and human rights arguments to further their advocacy for menthol bans.
- ASH submitted or supported the submission of numerous national tobacco centric reports to UN Human Rights Treaty Bodies including Japan, the U.S., Sweden, Chad and others.
- Both the Japan report and the United States report resulted in publications published in a peer reviewed journal.
- ASH submitted numerous official statements on the topic of tobacco to the UN Human Rights Council, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and other UN agencies and processes, including (among numerous others):
- Suggested addition to the General Comment on Scientific Progress and Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
- Response to an open call from the OHCHR on systemic racism
- ASH secured a grant to begin work on a 3 year human rights based campaign in France
- We formed partnerships and new collaborations in the Eastern Mediterranean Region, receiving official support from the Government of Oman, Office of Princess Dina Mired of Jordan, the American University of Beirut, and the Royal Medical Academy of Jordan to work on developing a human rights-based approach
- Thanks in large part to ASH advocacy in 2019 and 2020, a Human Rights Decision is on the agenda for WHO FCTC COP 9, which has been postponed to 2021.ASH provided support to this process at the request of the FCTC Secretariat and governments.
- We gave several presentations at conferences virtually and in-person (pre-COVID), including:
- European Conference on Tobacco or Health, Berlin, Germany- Using Human Rights Treaties reporting processes to end the tobacco epidemic
- The Union Conference
- ENSP Introducing human rights aspect to tobacco control – on the way to tobacco endgame” – ENSP-ECTC Conference
- Catalan Institute of Oncology online Webinar – Impact of Covid-19
Using global norms to move local communities toward a zero tobacco-use prevalence
- During the week that would have been COP9, ASH hosted a series of daily webinars with high level speakers from all over the world, which resulted in a series of editorials that were published in a peer reviewed publication on the topics covered during the presentations:
- ASH’s Staff supports local action in Washington, DC by serving as co-Chair of the DC Tobacco Free Coalition. ASH supported the development, in partnership with the coalition, of several virtual events and webinars, including the DC Calls It Quits Summit. As we look forward to 2021 and beyond, we’re excited to work with the Coalition to bring global concepts to local programing in DC to address the disparities and inequities that remain in public health today, particularly with flavored tobacco products – and especially menthol.
- ASH partnered with the Truth Initiative to present findings from our respective 2019 reports on tobacco industry interference during the CDC’s national partner webinar and the Tobacco Control Network meeting.
- ASH was invited to participate in this year’s Global Tobacco Industry Index which launched Tuesday, November 17th. Our participation included gathering all data on U.S. tobacco industry interference to be scored in their global report.
- Using the data gathered for the Global Index, ASH launched its U.S. Tobacco Industry Interference Index 2020 with promotional videos from partners at the Truth Initiative and Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center Department of Health Behavior and a wide social media campaign bolstered by several partner organizations.
- ASH submitted our quadrennial report to the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and our triennial report to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). Our reports are vital to maintain our official standing within the UN system and to our human rights and tobacco work.
- ASH supported various initiatives around the world, including the smoke free-terraces campaign during active COVID-19 restrictions in Spain.
- We started our Webinar series in late March 2020 as COVID-19 lockdowns began across the U.S. Our goal was to share much-needed, verified information on the co-morbidity between smoking and COVID-19. Carolyn Dresler, was our first expert guest speaker on the webinar “COVID-19 Human Rights and Tobacco” and was quoted in this New York Times Article. All 24 webinars are described here, with recordings available to watch.
- In response to state and local advocates asking how to support tobacco control during the COVID-19 pandemic, ASH released our COVID-19 and Tobacco Policy and Communications Toolkit on April 24, 2020, just as the lockdowns were getting underway in the U.S.
- ASH publishes regular statements to share with media and keep our supporters informed of current events related to our work.
- The Surgeon General is right: Smoking cessation treatment works and is critical
- Los Angeles Region is the Epicenter of a Global Revolution in Public Health
- Dutch Parliament Moves to Drastically Reduce Tobacco Sales
- On March 10, 2020, ASH began compiling legitimate resources discussing the co-morbidity between COVID-19 and tobacco use, filling an information gap that existed. We’ve continued updating that COVID-19 resource page and hosting webinars to build on it.
- Sheltering in Place: An Opportunity to Finally Quit Smoking
- The Coronavirus Catch-22 for the Tobacco Industry
- Leaving and Halting Funding to the World Health Organization Harms More Than the COVID-19 Response
- Action on Smoking and Health joined the public health community in its call to the United Nations (UN) to include the tobacco industry misinformation in the efforts to battle the COVID “misinfodemic.” Read the joint letter here.
- Statement from ASH Board Chair Dr. Alfred Munzer and ASH Executive Director Laurent Huber following the death of George Floyd
- Statement from Laurent Huber, Executive Director of ASH, on the passing of former Uruguayan President Tabaré Vázquez
- ASH publishes regular blogs of personal stories, to humanize the toll tobacco has on our lives.
- ASH’s 2019 Annual Report was published here.
- ASH hosted a virtual Town Hall to update our supporters on our work in 2020 and answer any of their questions. You can watch the recording here.
- Media Highlights
- ASH used Facebook Live videos as a chance to comment on recent news and how those announcements impact our work. Watch the videos here.
- The New York Times: “Smokers and Vapers May Be at Greater Risk for Covid-19”
- Bloomberg: “Lawsuit Aims to Ban Menthols, Big Tobacco’s Bait for Black Smokers”
- ASH Response to editorial in The Hill titled, “States Can Stop Selling Cigarettes During the COVID-19 Pandemic”
- Bloomberg Law: “Menthols Fatally Targeted at Black Americans, FDA Told”
- Voice of American News: “COVID-19 Prompts Many Cigarette Smokers to Quit”
- The Hill – Editorial “’Health vs economy’ is COVID-19 déjà vu all over again with tobacco” with co-author Tim McAfee, former head of the CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health
- Bay State Banner: “The attack on flavored tobacco products”
- Inside Health Policy: “Tobacco Control Groups Sue FDA For Inaction On Menthol Cigarettes”
- Eurasia Review: “Call to ban menthol cigarettes nationwide”
- Weekendavisen: “The sunset of democracy”
- Healthline: “Even occasional smoking can increase your risk of stroke”
- Law360: “NGO Says Menthol Cigarette Ban Delay Hurts Black People”
- Support for Aggressive Tobacco Control Interventions Among California Adolescents and Young Adults – Journal of Adolescent Health
- A holistic approach to human rights and the tobacco epidemic – Nicotine and Tobacco
- FCTC Article 2.1 and the next horizon in tobacco policy: Phasing out commercial sales – Tobacco Control.
- Editorial: Tobacco Control in the United States: Failure to Protect the Right to Health
- The urgent need for a human rights approach to improving smoking cessation treatment
- FCTC Article 2.1 and the next horizon in tobacco policy: Phasing out commercial sales
- WHO FCTC Article 19: Using the judicial system to fight tobacco
- Human rights and the WHO FCTC Conference of the Parties
- The impact of COVID-19 on the WHO FCTC, cessation, and tobacco policy
- It is time to become serious about closing the global resource gap for FCTC implementation
- Human Rights Day 2020 Reflection
- British Medical Journal, Tobacco Control: Strengthening women’s rights while lowering tobacco Use